Tag Archives: God’s faithfulness

2 Kings 2-3; Psalm 48; Matthew 4

The view outside of my front window is of one large shade garden. There are several gardens in our yard, and most of them now are dominated by weeds. Last year, losses and crises took my attention from home to urgent issues. And this year, I’ve had to examine areas of my life and focus small first to nurture things that have been neglected–the garden is certainly symbolic of that.

This morning, I head out to the big garden with gloves and clippers to try to take back what two growing seasons have taken over. I read in 2 Kings 3 of armies in the wilderness: “The king of Edom and his troops joined them, and all three armies traveled along a roundabout route through the wilderness for seven days. But there was no water for the men or their animals (2 Kings 3:9, NLT).

They called on Elisha who explained, “This is what the Lord says: This dry valley will be filled with pools of water! 17 You will see neither wind nor rain, says the Lord, but this valley will be filled with water. You will have plenty for yourselves and your cattle and other animals. 18 But this is only a simple thing for the Lord, for he will make you victorious over the army of Moab! 19 You will conquer the best of their towns, even the fortified ones. You will cut down all their good trees, stop up all their springs, and ruin all their good land with stones.”

20 The next day at about the time when the morning sacrifice was offered, water suddenly appeared! It was flowing from the direction of Edom, and soon there was water everywhere (2 Kings 3:16-20, NLT).

In Matthew, Jesus is tempted by Satan–to satisfy himself, to prove himself, to exalt himself. Jesus responds to each offer with scripture. I think on this now, because whether it’s temptation (to take things into my own hands, to prove myself, to be in charge) or accusation, an enemy’s motives always reveal an intention to kill, steal, or destroy. It could be the unseen things like peace or faith, or it could be very visible–relationships, possessions, jobs … even gardens.

Dawn breaks. I won’t get to all the garden spaces today, but I ready myself to tackle both the unseen and the visible. I think long on scriptures I know that tell of who God is, and remind me of who I am because of Him, in Him.

13 Take note of the fortified walls,
    and tour all the citadels,
that you may describe them
    to future generations.
14 For that is what God is like.
    He is our God forever and ever,
    and he will guide us until we die. (Psalm 48:13-14, NLT)

Lord, an enemy is bent on stealing and destroying–and already so much is wounded or broken by lies, grief, evil. When I look at the destruction, I linger in the loss and am weak. Lord, I look to you, to what you can do, to the valley you will fill with water.

Courtney (66books365)

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1 Samuel 20; 1 Chronicles 4; Psalm 56, 57, 142; Acts 14

There was a man named Jabez who was more honorable than any of his brothers. His mother named him Jabez[d] because his birth had been so painful. 10 He was the one who prayed to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and expand my territory! Please be with me in all that I do, and keep me from all trouble and pain!” And God granted him his request. (1 Chron 4:9-10 NLT)

Tucked away in the middle of a chronicle of names of the lineage of Judah is a little paragraph that has come to be known as the “Prayer of Jabez.” Jabez had a lot to overcome in his life. Jabez means “pain” in Hebrew and it makes me wonder why a mother would name her child that way. Imagine growing up and every time anyone called your name they reminded you of this fact. Talk about growing up in shame! Notice that this story does not dwell on that, though. His prayer to God is more of a focus than the pain.

There is a quote by Brene Brown that really spoke to me of this process: “Loving ourselves through the process of owning our story is the bravest thing we’ll ever do.” Jabez could not help what his mother named him. I can imagine the other boys taunting him, calling him names. Maybe there were times he caught his mother looking at him in a certain way and feeling her remembering what she went through bringing him into this world. I can relate to this story because it could be the story of my life as well. So many of us have had hurtful things done to us that caused us to make bad choices. Shame is an insidious emotion. It hides and masks itself as so many other things. I can look back at my life and see that the root of so much brokenness comes from shame experienced at an early age.

What I love about these few verses is that Jabez was determined not to let his name define his life. He asked God to bless him and give him a larger arena to spread the goodness of the God he loved. He asked God to be with him, to guide him away from hurting himself and others. I believe he didn’t want to cause anyone else the pain he suffered! His focus was on God. “And God granted him his request.” Because of that, people don’t remember his pain–they remember his God!

God loves me so much! There are times I do not remember that. Instead of focusing on all the good He has done in my life, I can get caught up remembering all the pain from a long time ago. In all honesty, though, that pain is how He enlarged my territory. His love, faithfulness, patience, and teaching have given me a testimony to share with others. I have amazing stories of God working in my life, revealing His truth to me, and putting together the broken pieces of my life to reflect His beauty. The trouble and pain I suffered caused me to seek Him. I would not have the relationship I have with Him today if it were not for all that happened in my past. Like Jabez, I too have prayed a payer to the Lord. My prayer was to heal my brokenness, break the strongholds in my life, and use me to speak hope and God’s healing power into other people’s lives. “And God granted (her) request.”

9 I will thank you, Lord, among all the people.
    I will sing your praises among the nations.
10 For your unfailing love is as high as the heavens.
    Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds. (Psalm 57:9-10 NLT)

Father, I pray that people will look at me and see my God, my Father who calls me “dearly loved.” You have loved me back from the depths of despair. At times, your saving grace will overwhelm me and I can do nothing but cry tears of gratitude and joy. I, too, will sing your praises for all to hear. In the precious name of Jesus, Amen.

Cindy (gardnlady)

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Filed under 1 Chronicles, Bible in a year reading plan, Psalms

2Chronicles 26; Revelation 13; Zechariah 9; John 12

Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion! Shout, Daughter Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.10 I will take away the chariots from Ephraim and the warhorses from Jerusalem, and the battle bow will be broken. He will proclaim peace to the nations.  His rule will extend from sea to sea and from the River[b] to the ends of the earth. (Zech 9:9-10 NIV)

 

12 The next day the great crowd that had come for the festival heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. 13 They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting,

“Hosanna![d]

“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”[e]

“Blessed is the king of Israel!”

14 Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, as it is written:

15 “Do not be afraid, Daughter Zion; see, your king is coming, seated on a donkey’s colt.”[f]

16 At first his disciples did not understand all this. Only after Jesus was glorified did they realize that these things had been written about him and that these things had been done to him. (John 12:12-16 NIV)

These verses speak to me of the faithfulness of God and the trustworthiness of his word. It may not be in my timetable, but you can trust it will happen. There were about 500 years between the time Zechariah prophesied of the coming Messiah, even to him riding on a donkey, and the actual event.  No one expected the Messiah to come as he did, even though his birth was prophesized in Isaiah.  We are told Jesus stood up in the synagogue and read a portion of Isaiah 61 and tells them the prophesy about himself was fulfilled that very day (Luke 4:17-21) and then sits down.  He told them who he was and they missed it. When Jesus rode into town on the colt of a donkey, no one even connected the two events until after Jesus’ resurrection.  Jesus reveals himself to me through his word and I can miss him as well.  As an analytical person, I sometimes need to sift through data in my head before the light bulb goes off.  The Holy Spirit is so patient with me.

Six days before the Passover celebration began, Jesus arrived in Bethany, the home of Lazarus—the man he had raised from the dead. A dinner was prepared in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, and Lazarus was among those who ate[a] with him. Then Mary took a twelve-ounce jar[b] of expensive perfume made from essence of nard, and she anointed Jesus’ feet with it, wiping his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance. (John 12:1-3 NLT)

This dinner happened after Lazarus had been resurrected. I can picture it being a celebratory dinner of life when just days before there seemed no hope they would ever be together as a family again.  Yet here they were.  Mary was so overcome with love and gratitude for Jesus she poured her prize possession on him.  There was nothing in this world that meant more to her than he did.  She wiped the oil with her own hair.  In those days, women kept their hair wrapped around their head, they did not wear it loose.  Yet she exposed herself, leaving herself open to ridicule, in open abandonment to his presence.  In my mind that is true worship.

 

Lord Jesus, I don’t know if I have ever felt that overwhelmed by you that nothing of this world matters more than you—but I want to. You came to set the captive free and I long for that freedom, that abandonment to worship you with everything I am.  Thank you for stepping out of heaven to come to earth as a lowly infant and show us the way to true life.  O come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord.  Amen

Cindy (gardnlady)

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Filed under 66 Books, John, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, Uncategorized, Zechariah

1 Samuel 20, Psalm 36, Lamentations 5, 1 Corinthians 2

Bad things happen to good people. Bad things happen to believers in Christ who pursue a relationship with him. No one is immune to sin’s far reaching touch and trials and suffering will continue until Jesus returns. As I began to mature in my faith, this realization struck me as a surprise. I felt like suffering was for those people who were not obedient or didn’t have a relationship with the Lord. I relied very much on my own efforts to be obedient and check off all the boxes to be a “good girl” but my formula for avoiding suffering didn’t work and neither does it for anyone else.

David must have wondered, “Why me, Lord? I thought I was anointed King. Why is Saul pursuing my death?”

Jeremiah must have wondered, “Why us, Lord? I thought we were your chosen people. Why is the temple destroyed?”

You can fill in the blanks with your own situation, trial or period of suffering. I praise the Lord for his true word that provides me with reminders of his faithfulness to his people throughout all generations. One of the most difficult things about trials is that I often don’t understand why or see the good. When this happens, I must remember the truth of God’s word and his promises. I must remember that he works all things together for good (not necessary my personal good). Obedience plus faith is not the formula to avoid trials but does help us through the hard times.

God’s true word gives us knowledge and wisdom to deal with our day in and day out struggles. When we turn to the Lord, walk daily in the Spirit and trust in him, he reveals to us the things we need to know at the time we need it.

Speak to us, Lord…..

“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”- these things he has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God.” 1 Corinthians 2:9-10

When we seek God’es true word, we remember his enduring love…….

“Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds. Your righteousness is like the mountains of God; your judgments are like the great deep; man and beast you save, O Lord.” Psalm 36: 5-6

Dear Father, thank you for your word that brings truth to our souls. Holy Spirit, speak to us in our times of trial, when it’s hard to see the good or understand your ways. Remind our hearts that your love is never ending. Amen.

 

kateredding

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Deuteronomy 12; Psalms 97,98; Isaiah 40; Revelation 10

The words read like a feast to me: rich, filling, satisfying. It’s all praise, and don’t I want my days filled with a heart song? Before I settled into reading, I was hanging out in some memories of the past year, times with a table full of guests whether a holiday or a poetry tea. Times of closeness, nature, celebration. Such a gratitude welled up in me. Thank you, God. Thank you for beauty, provision, family and friends.

There you and your families will feast in the presence of the Lord your God, and you will rejoice in all you have accomplished because the Lord your God has blessed you. (Deuteronomy 12:7, NLT)

Even on the days when grief hit hard, or the load was so heavy, or my nerves felt frazzled–it would be the simplest of things that would remind me of God’s great grace–a friend to listen, a timely word of encouragement, the honey sweetness in a warm tea, stunning sunsets after hard days. Thank you, God. Thank you for your presence and reminders everywhere.

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A glowy sunset after a powerful storm

The heavens proclaim his righteousness;
    every nation sees his glory.

11 Light shines on the godly,
    and joy on those whose hearts are right.
12 May all who are godly rejoice in the Lord
    and praise his holy name! Psalm 97:6, 11-12 NLT

And:

Shout to the Lord, all the earth;
    break out in praise and sing for joy!
Sing your praise to the Lord with the harp,
    with the harp and melodious song,
with trumpets and the sound of the ram’s horn.
    Make a joyful symphony before the Lord, the King! Psalm 98:4-6, NLT

Yesterday I met with a woman who has helped me pack up the business pieces my father’s life. She shared her own story of now listing her home to move out of state to be near her aging parents and help them transition to a facility where they’ll receive the care they need. Two other friends are also managing affairs of a parent who has died or is near death. In all this, I learn from them about heart, priorities, self-care (which I never would have imagined being a regular word in my vocabulary!), perseverance, and faith. There is a peace knowing I don’t walk alone, and that God is with us–each of us. Thank you, God. Thank you for those who walk alongside as help or as example. Thank you for companions in traversing difficult paths.

26 Look up into the heavens.
    Who created all the stars?
He brings them out like an army, one after another,
    calling each by its name.
Because of his great power and incomparable strength,
    not a single one is missing.
27 O Jacob, how can you say the Lord does not see your troubles?
    O Israel, how can you say God ignores your rights?
28 Have you never heard?
    Have you never understood?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of all the earth.
He never grows weak or weary.
    No one can measure the depths of his understanding.
29 He gives power to the weak
    and strength to the powerless.
30 Even youths will become weak and tired,
    and young men will fall in exhaustion.
31 But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.
    They will soar high on wings like eagles.
They will run and not grow weary.
    They will walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:26-31, NLT)

Thank you, Lord, for strength you give me on the hard days. You are ever so close, encouraging me and loving me.
Courtney (66books365)

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Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, Uncategorized

Exodus 11,12:21; Luke 14; Job 29; 1 Cor.15

Those were the days when I went into the city gate and took my place among the honored leaders. The young stepped aside when they saw me, and even the aged rose in respect at my coming. The princes stood in silence and put their hands over their mouths. The highest officials of the city stood quietly, holding their tongues in respect. “All who heard me praised me. All who saw me spoke well of me. For I assisted the poor in their need and the orphans who required help. I helped those without hope, and they blessed me. And I caused the widows’ hearts to sing for joy…When they were discouraged, I smiled at them. My look of approval was precious to them” Job 29:7-13, 24 NLT

Job is yearning for the past. When he was esteemed and honored my his peers. As I read through these verses, I keeping seeing the word ‘I.’ “I did this”, “I did that”….I think about how many times  I can be forgetful, like Job. And my heart is filled with pride. I fail to remember that I can’t do anything in my own strength. It is God who is with me and He gets the glory for every good thing in my life. Looking back at God’s faithfulness is good for my soul, it can spur me forward and give me the encouragement to press on. But, sometimes if I stay in the past, I get stuck and it hinders me from living my life in the present. I miss out on the blessings that he has for me right now.

But whatever I am now, it is all because God poured out his special favor on me-and not without results. For I have worked harder than any of the other apostles; yet it was not I but God who was working through me by his grace.” 1 Corinthians 15:10 NLT

Recently I was asked to paint words of remembrance of someone who died. I didn’t know them, but I was told that it would mean a lot to the family. I thanked God for allowing me to use my talents in that way.The verse that I painted spoke hope into my life. I knew that I couldn’t take the credit, because it ministered to me as well. God is continually showing me that he sees me and that is enough.

For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” Luke 14:11 NLT

Dear Father, Please forgive me for my pride. Help me to remember that everything I have comes from you. I pray that I would steward my life well and not waste the gifts you have given me. I pray that I would use them for your glory. Amen.

Amy (amyctanner)

So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.” 1 Corinthians 15:58 NLT

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Filed under 1 Corinthians, 66 Books, Exodus, Job, Luke

Genesis 17, Nehemiah 6, Matthew 16, Acts 16

Why am I so set in my ways and rely on myself? Even after years of trusting Jesus for my salvation and growing deeper and deeper in relationship with him, I still find my self-dependence remains one of my strongest qualities. Over and over I fail. I try again, succeed slightly and fail again. Start. Fail. Repeat. Etc. After some self-reflection I have realized a few interesting things about myself. One, I don’t often bring the Lord my issues and problems. Maybe I think they are too small or insignificant for him to be concerned with. Sometimes I think, “I got myself into this mess, it’s on me to get myself out of it”. It’s not that I think he can’t fix/heal something, it’s that I feel unworthy. And number two, I very easily and all too often forget what he has done for me…..without any help from me!

I forget my past and all the Lord has done for me and I forget his promises for my future. I forget that I can come to God empty handed. He can create where there was nothing and multiply the small. Thankfully, I realize that I am in good company. In my failures and inadequacies I can say, “But God!”.

 

Abraham attempts to fulfill God’s plan for him to become the Father many nations with his son Ishmael.

But God….

17 Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed and said to himself, “Shall a child be born to a man who is a hundred years old? Shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?” 18 And Abraham said to God, “Oh that Ishmael might live before you!” 19 God said, “No, but Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac.[f] I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his offspring after him. (Genesis 17)

Nehemiah was threatened repeatedly by his enemies and faced many trials during the building of the wall.

But God……

15 So the wall was finished on the twenty-fifth day of the month Elul, in fifty-two days. 16 And when all our enemies heard of it, all the nations around us were afraid and fell greatly in their own esteem, for they perceived that this work had been accomplished with the help of our God. (Nehemiah 6)

The disciples forgot the miracles Jesus performed with just a few resources.

But God…..

But Jesus, aware of this, said, “O you of little faith, why are you discussing among yourselves the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive? Do you not remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many baskets you gathered? 10 Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many baskets you gathered? (Matthew 16)

Paul and Silas sat helplessly imprisoned.

But God…..

25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, 26 and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s bonds were unfastened. (Acts16)

Dear Lord, as many times as I try to rely fully on you I still slip back in to my old ways. When I look back, I am always blown away by your presence and power in my life. Help me to remember the truth of your word; without you I am nothing, with you, all things are possible. Help others to see your mighty works in my life and come to you love you like I do! Amen.

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Filed under Acts, Genesis, Matthew, Nehemiah, Uncategorized